Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Summer means long days filled with carefree adventures around every corner. It doesn’t have to mean long, complicated meals filled with recipes that heat up the kitchen. This simple salad requires no cooking – perfect for summer. This dish’s inspiration came from the three pickling cucumbers I received in this week’s CSA farm share and trying to find a special recipe for them.

Differences between Pickling and Salad Cucumbers:

  • Pickling cucumbers typically have thinner skin, which allows the vinegar, brine or pickling liquid to better penetrate the skin and flavor the vegetable.
  • Pickling cucumbers are typically short and squat, instead of long and lean.
  • Usually, pickling cucumbers have “warts” or little bumps on the skin, while salad cucumbers have smoother skin.
  • Pickling cucumbers have fewer seeds than salad cucumbers.

 

Here’s my recipe for Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad:

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

3 pickling cucumbers, sliced with skin on

1 medium-sized, shallot very thinly sliced

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1-2 tbsp. fresh chopped dill

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the cucumbers and shallots. It may seem like not enough liquid for the amount of cucumbers. Trust me it’s enough. You want your cucumbers coated, but not swimming in liquid.

Add the cucumbers and shallots in the bowl and toss to combine.

Toss the cucumbers and shallots with the liquid to coat

Toss the cucumbers and shallots with the liquid to coat

Load the salad into the cleaned mason jars. Allow it to sit for at least 1 hour prior to serving. The salad will keep crisp in the jars for 3-4 days.

Load the salad into the cleaned mason jars.

Load the salad into the cleaned mason jars.

I paired this salad with southwest ground chicken burgers and hand-cut baked fries. It’s perfect for a picnic and can be easily packed in your basket.

It’s a perfect side for a picnic and can be easily packed in your basket.

It’s a perfect side for a picnic and can be easily packed in your basket.

 

Did you know the difference between pickling and salad cucumbers?

Have you ever made a mason-jar salad?

Berry Cart snack box and app

Berry Cart snack box and app

Snack subscription services are gaining popularity and flooding the marketplace. So how does one differentiate itself from the others all trying to grab a share in a quickly crowding market? Offer something a little different from the competition. That’s exactly what Berry Cart is doing. Berry Cart has two components. It first began as a free mobile rebate app that offers cash back for purchasing healthy products. This is a great way to save money on high-priced specialty foods.

Recently the company expanded the offering to include a snack subscription service containing brands featured on the app. The products are all natural, gluten-free, organic, vegan and/or non-GMO products.

Berry Cart snack box and app

Berry Cart snack box and app

The subscription box includes eight to ten healthy products. At least four of them are a full size and others are snack sized. In addition, the box contains an information card with details on the box contents and how to collect the cash back rebates using the Berry Cart app.

The box contains an information card with details on the box contents and how to collect the cash back rebates using the Berry Cart app.

The box contains an information card with details on the box contents and how to collect the cash back rebates using the Berry Cart app.

My Berry Cart box included: Beanfields bean & rice chips; I Heart Keenwah Clusters; Simple Squares; World Peas; Snakaroons, Hemp Hearts, Kutoa Snack Bar, Pure Stevia and Ips Chips.

The subscription box includes eight to ten healthy products.

The subscription box includes eight to ten healthy products.

What we liked: Let’s just say that my family is very familiar with the Beanfields chips. They love them and were gone before I could photograph them. I shared the other snacks with some friends. We liked the ranch-flavored world of peas. We all liked the Keenwah peanut butter clusters. They have a similar texture to a granola bar.

We all liked the Keenwah peanut butter clusters.

We all liked the Keenwah peanut butter clusters.

We also really liked the vanilla snakaroons. They were gone quickly

Vanilla snakaroons

Vanilla snakaroons

What we disliked: We weren’t fans of the Ips Chips with protein or the simple square.

Ips Chips with protein

Ips Chips with protein

I’ll be trying out the hemp sprinkled on top of a salad. I can also add it or the organic stevia to a smoothy.

Berry Cart monthly snack subscription costs $24.99, including shipping. You can enter code “Get5off” for $5 off your first order. The Berry Cart app is free and available for both iPhone and Android devices.

 

Have you ever tried a snack-delivery service?

What’s your favorite healthy snack?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of a Berry Cart snack box, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

La Creperie, Key West, FL

La Creperie, Key West, FL

Key West, FL has a rich culinary scene. With over 200 restaurants on the 4 x 5 mile island, foodies like myself are quick to discover an amazing assortment of great restaurants to tempt your taste buds, many with incredible atmospheres.

When traveling, I like to find those gems on quiet, “off the beaten path” streets, serving something extraordinary and unique to the destination. Before leaving, we made a list of the island’s specialties, which included conch fritters, pink shrimp and key lime pie. Little did I know we would find the closest thing you can to a French street café, serving up the most amazing crepes you’ve ever had!

La Creperie, Key West, FL

La Creperie, Key West, FL

La Creperie is a “must visit” restaurant when in Key West. The owners are French and the food is authentic. They understand what a crepe should look and taste like. The menu includes a range of sweet, fruit-filled crepes; a savory counterpart of galettes made from organic buckwheat stuffed with cheese, veggies, protein and amazing sauces; omelets; French plates like croque monsieur and Madame; Paninis and cold sandwiches; and salads.

Upon our first visit – yes we went twice over our six-day trip – I ordered an omelet with bacon, chives, potatoes and cheddar cheese. It was one of the best omelets I’ve ever had!

An omelet with bacon, chives, potatoes and cheddar cheese - it was the best I've ever had!

An omelet with bacon, chives, potatoes and cheddar cheese – it was the best I’ve ever had!

They serve the omelets with a side of French bread toast. It was so good that I ordered the same thing the second time we visited.

At our first visit, my husband opted for a sweet crepe that was filled with Nutella and fresh strawberries, topped with gelato ice cream. The crepes are large and you are able to share, if you are willing to give up a bite. Of course, I had to taste it – oh my – how good it was!

A sweet crepe that was filled with Nutella and fresh strawberries, topped with gelato ice cream.

A sweet crepe that was filled with Nutella and fresh strawberries, topped with gelato ice cream.

 

At our second visit, he again selected one of the sweet crepes, but this time it was filled with fresh pineapple chunks, coconut and caramel – and of course topped with the vanilla gelato ice cream. It was another big hit!

Another sweet crepe, but this time it was filled with fresh pineapple chunks, coconut and caramel – and of course topped with the vanilla gelato ice cream!

Another sweet crepe, but this time it was filled with fresh pineapple chunks, coconut and caramel – and of course topped with the vanilla gelato ice cream!

Our friends tried one of the savory buckwheat galettes that was filled with chicken, béchamel sauce, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and melted Swiss cheese. The combination of flavors was amazing and the organic buckwheat was crispy and light.

One of the savory buckwheat galettes that was filled with chicken, béchamel sauce, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and melted Swiss cheese.

One of the savory buckwheat galettes that was filled with chicken, béchamel sauce, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and melted Swiss cheese.

One of the cool features to this restaurant is that you can sit inside at the counter and watch two French women making the crepes right before your eyes!

You can sit inside at the counter and watch two French women making the crepes right before your eyes!

You can sit inside at the counter and watch two French women making the crepes right before your eyes!

We were mesmerized watching them in action making 30 different kinds of crepes on the circular griddles. I couldn’t believe how they flipped the crepes so effortlessly without tearing them.

We were mesmerized watching them in action making 30 different kinds of crepes on the circular griddles.

We were mesmerized watching them in action making 30 different kinds of crepes on the circular griddles.

La Creperie is open daily for breakfast and lunch only. It is located at 300 Petronia Street, across from Blue Heaven restaurant, in the Bahamian section of Key West – away from the hustle and bustle of Duval Street, but not a long walk from it. Be forewarned that the restaurant is usually quite busy on the weekends so you may have a short wait but totally worth it. We found the crowd to be thinner on the weekdays. Also, the restaurant only takes cash payments – no debit or credit cards.

La Creperie - a “must visit” restaurant when in Key West!

La Creperie – a “must visit” restaurant when in Key West!

Ooh La La C’est Magnifique! Bon Appetit!

 

Have you ever been to Key West, FL?

Have you ever eaten at a French creperie restaurant?

Cave Tools, Meat Tenderizer Mallet

Cave Tools, Meat Tenderizer Mallet

There are certain recipes that require thin or consistent thickness meat. The meat tenderizer mallet is a cook’s tool designed for this purpose.

Cave Tools Meat Tenderizer Mallet

Cave Tools Meat Tenderizer Mallet

Cave Tools is a line of high quality barbecue and cooking tools. Michael “Medium Rare” O’Donnell founded the company in 2013. I was provided with their meat tenderizer mallet and asked to give it a try.

The meat tenderizer mallet is a cook’s tool designed for  thinning or tenderizing meat.

The meat tenderizer mallet is a cook’s tool designed for thinning or tenderizing meat.

The tool serves dual purposes. You use the smooth side to flatten the thickest part of meats or seafood so it is the same thickness as the edges. This way when it cooks it will do so evenly and avoid dryness of the thinner edges. You use the toothed surface to pound cheaper, tougher cuts of meat to break up the meat’s fibers to make it tenderer.

The tool serves dual purposes, depending on which side of the head you use.

The tool serves dual purposes, depending on which side of the head you use.

I gave the tool a try with some boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I would be grilling later. Before flattening and tenderizing the meat, cover it on both sides with plastic wrap.

Chicken breasts before using the meat tenderizer mallet.

Chicken breasts before using the meat tenderizer mallet.

I like several feature of the tool, especially the rubber-gripped handle – perfect for someone like me who has small hands. Also, the tool’s weight was perfect for getting the job done easily. I will definitely use it when making my chicken piccata recipe (so good you’ll want to lick the plate), where having thin chicken is a necessity!

Chicken breasts after using the meat tenderizer mallet.

Chicken breasts after using the meat tenderizer mallet.

As for my grilled chicken, it worked perfect! After pounding and tenderizing the chicken, I drizzled it lightly with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then I sprinkled them with freshly picked rosemary and chives that I chopped finely. They grill up quickly and are very flavorful.

Thinned chicken breasts are perfect for grilling!

Thinned chicken breasts are perfect for grilling!

The Cave Tool meat tenderizer mallet is made out of stainless steel and is dishwasher safe. Cave Tools are sold online at their website. Currently, the meat tenderizer mallet is on sale for $9.99. The feedback of thousands of end users helped design this line of tools.

 

Do you have any recipes that call for thinly pounded meats, which would be perfect for a meat tenderizer mallet?

What’s your favorite cook’s tool?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Cave Tools Meat Tenderizer Mallet, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage, Feta and Sage

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage, Feta and Sage

For many of us, the pinnacle of the summer months is the highly anticipated vacation. While we are away, we enjoy the sites, relax and sample the local cuisine. According to Trip Advisor, about a third of travelers introduce new foods into their diets during and after a vacation. I often find that the specialty foods that I’ve sampled while on vacation inspire me when I return home to either recreate or create a new dish that captures the flavors in my memory palate. It is with this inspiration that I created this new recipe.

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage, Feta and Sage

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage, Feta and Sage

 

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Sausage, Feta and Sage

2 pints of roasted cherry/ grape tomatoes (see note below)

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

5 medium shallots, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. sweet turkey sausage, casings removed

8 sage leaves, washed and roughly torn into large pieces

2/3 c white wine

12 oz Feta cheese, crumbled (fat free is okay to use)

½ of 14 oz can of low sodium chicken stock

¼ c chopped scallions

Salt & pepper to taste

1 lb. whole-wheat penne pasta

Roast the tomatoes as directed in the deconstructed bruschetta recipe and allow cooling.

Slow roasting the tomatoes brings out their sweetness!

Slow roasting the tomatoes brings out their sweetness!

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.  Then, add in the sausage, seasoning with salt and pepper, and cook until completely browned and crumbled (about 10 minutes).

Add the wine and sage leaves and cook until the wine is evaporated. Stir in the feta, roasted tomatoes and half the scallions.

Add the chicken stock in ¼ cup increments as you continue cooking for 5 minutes. The “meat sauce” should not be dry or soupy. You want just enough liquid to keep the sauce moist but not wet.

It's a heart "meat sauce" mixture rich with flavors!

It’s a hearty “meat sauce” mixture rich with flavors!

While making the sauce, cook the pasta as directed. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the meat mixture and cook for 2 more minutes over high heat, stirring to combine the pasta and sauce. Garnish with the remaining scallions and serve.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings.

 

Yields 4-6 servings.

 

How have you ever tried to recreate or create a recipe after a vacation?

American Flatbread Frozen Pizzas

American Flatbread Frozen Pizzas

Pizza is the world’s most popular food, according to the US Department of Agriculture. In fact, 13% of the US population ages 2 and over consumer pizza on any given day, with each person in America eating about 46 slices per year. Everyone seeks a reliable, neighborhood pizzeria to satisfy his or her cravings. But when the pizza deliverer can’t come quick enough, frozen store-bought pizza is a good short cut. American Flatbread has a line of premium frozen pizzas for people who care about pizza and the planet.

American Flatbread frozen pizzas

American Flatbread frozen pizzas

American Flatbread is a New England-based company that began with one bakery in Vermont. Over the years, the brick and mortar storefronts have expanded to several other locations. In order to bring the flatbreads to more homes across the country, they teamed up with Rustic Crust Company in 2010.

AM Flat IMG_2150

American Flatbread’s frozen pizzas feature 100% organically grown wheat crusts and are topped with fresh herbs, vegetables and the high-quality cheese, containing no growth hormones. They are all-natural, with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and are handcrafted from scratch and par-baked in wood-fired ovens.

The frozen pizzas are all-natural, with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and are handcrafted from scratch and par-baked in wood-fired ovens.

The frozen pizzas are all-natural, with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and are handcrafted from scratch and par-baked in wood-fired ovens.

We had the opportunity to try three of the frozen flatbreads: Tomato sauce and three cheese; fresh basil pesto and feta; and Ionian awakening.

The pizzas are very simple to bake in the oven.

The pizzas are very simple to bake in the oven.

The pizzas are very simple to bake in the oven. My son, who is home on summer-break from college, was the primary consumer. He found them easy to cook up, especially appreciated them when we were having something for dinner that he didn’t care for.

We enjoyed all three of the pizzas.

We enjoyed all three of the pizzas.

We enjoyed all three of the pizzas, but he especially liked the Ionian Awakening one. It’s an interesting combination of Mediterranean flavors that in addition to the sauce and cheese includes red onion, Kalamata olives, garlic and rosemary. All of the pizzas were very flavorful.

The Ionian Awakening was our favorite.

The Ionian Awakening was our favorite.

American Flatbread frozen pizzas retail for $6 – 8 in the grocery stores. Right now, the company is offering a $3 coupon online. I found these pizzas at my local Stop & Shop supermarket. To see if there is a grocery store in your area that carries them, you can use the online product locator.

Real Simple magazine recognized American Flatbread frozen pizzas as the “Best Frozen Pizza” by best cheese and best mushroom categories.

Real Simple magazine recognized American Flatbread frozen pizzas as the “Best Frozen Pizza” by best cheese and best mushroom categories.

Real Simple magazine recognized American Flatbread frozen pizzas as the “Best Frozen Pizza” by best cheese and best mushroom categories. We would look to keep some on hand for those times when you need a quick meal and/or snack.

 

What’s your favorite frozen pizza brand?

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of American Flatbread frozen pizzas, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Rhode Island Red Food Tours – Newport Neighborhood Tasting

Rhode Island Red Food Tours – Newport Neighborhood Tasting

Certain cities around the globe are known for their unique foods. One trend that is growing in popularity is culinary tourism. It offers travelers a way to explore their destination through food and food experiences, which can range from metropolitan food tasting tours to countryside visits to coffee plantations and vineyards. Tourists want to try the “off-the-beat” restaurants and places only known by the locals. This demand was realized and because of it more food tours have popped up around the globe. Food tours are becoming a more common item on the traveler’s agenda.

One of the newer food tours to pop-up in New England is Rhode Island Red Food Tours.

Rhode Island Red Food Tours

Rhode Island Red Food Tours

It’s owner, Paula Silva, has developed the “Newport Neighborhood – Tasting & Cultural Walking Tour.” It’s a three-hour cultural walking and tasting tour that takes you through little-known historic neighborhoods and to the best-kept secret eateries known to the locals of Newport, RI.

Recently, I had the opportunity to experience this food tour. We made six stops at food tasting locations. In between, we walked through several Newport neighborhoods, away from the popular waterfront Thames Street and Bellevue Avenue mansion districts, and learned about the corresponding history.

This tour combines culinary tastes with historic sites.

This tour combines culinary tastes with historic sites.

Newport historic Artillery Company

Newport historic Artillery Company

We met outside our first stop – Van Gogh Pizza at 12 Broadway.

Van Gogh Pizza was our first stop

Van Gogh Pizza was our first stop

Recently opened in March 2015, Van Gogh Pizza touts itself as specializing in “The art of pizza and the science of sandwichology.” It focuses on combining ingredients with artistic inspiration to create masterpieces. We had the opportunity to taste a slice of The Great White pizza.

We tasted a slice of The Great White pizza.

We tasted a slice of The Great White pizza.

This pizza has cheese, white sauce (which the owner won’t divulge the recipe), chicken, bacon, spinach and oregano. It was an amazing combination of flavors and the crust was nice and doughy.

Our next stop was Washington Square Café and Baking Company, located in the heart of historic Newport.

Washington Square Café and Baking Company is located in the heart of historic Newport.

Washington Square Café and Baking Company is located in the heart of historic Newport.

Operating for over a year, the local community café serves house made pastries, breakfast, lunch and brunch. We were treated to two of their specialties: New England clam chowder and a layered Key Lime and Strawberry pie.

New England clam chowder

New England clam chowder

All baked goods in their display case are baked on site by one of the owners.

Key Lime and Strawberry pie

Key Lime and Strawberry pie

Both the chowder and the pie were delicious. This seems like a great place to hang out and have a leisurely breakfast.

After a short walk, which we were thankful to have in between food tastings, we landed at Perro Salado, a modern Mexican restaurant located two blocks east of Thames Street.

Perro Salado, a modern Mexican restaurant, is located two blocks east of Thames Street.

Perro Salado, a modern Mexican restaurant, is located two blocks east of Thames Street.

Perro Salado means “salty dog” in Spanish. The restaurant is located in an 18th century naval officer’s home. As it is a house rather than typical restaurant space, the seating is broken up into several small rooms along with an outside patio area. This made the restaurant feel very quaint and cozy.

As it is a house rather than typical restaurant space, the seating is broken up into several small rooms along with an outside patio area.

As it is a house rather than typical restaurant space, the seating is broken up into several small rooms along with an outside patio area.

While we expected to taste some typical Mexican foods, instead we were treated to their special sticky pork ribs, which are marinated overnight in a mixture of brown sugar and Coke.

The sticky pork ribs were amazing!

The sticky pork ribs were amazing!

The ribs were amazing! The meat was perfectly seasoned with the right mix of spice and flavor. The meat fell off the bone.

Finishing the halfway mark on the tour, we couldn’t imagine what was next but a stop at Mudville Pub.

Mudville Pub

Mudville Pub

Mudville Pub is an authentic sports bar with not your average pub grub.

Mudville Pub is an authentic sports bar with not your average pub grub.

Mudville Pub is an authentic sports bar with not your average pub grub.

We were told that this pub is the best baseball bar – and soon discovered why it can make this claim. We were led to the very back and amazed with a wonderful surprise.

The pub has counter seating with a view of Cardines Field, a baseball stadium located on America’s Cup Avenue.

The pub has counter seating with a view of Cardines Field, a baseball stadium located on America’s Cup Avenue.

The pub has counter seating with a view of Cardines Field, a baseball stadium located on America’s Cup Avenue. It is believed to be one of the oldest ballparks in the United States. In keeping with the baseball theme, we sampled one of Newport’s local beers.

We sampled one of Newport’s local beers

We sampled one of Newport’s local beers

How fun was this!

Have you beer while watching a game!

Have you beer while watching a game!

We know we will need to stop here again with the boys. They will love this place and want to sit and watch a game!

Cheers! to a fun filled day in Newport!

Cheers! to a fun filled day in Newport!

In keeping with the “grub” theme, we headed on to our fifth stop, Mission restaurant.

Our fifth stop was Mission restaurant.

Our fifth stop was Mission restaurant.

This place serves burgers, hot dogs, a falafel and fries – that’s it! The meat patties and hot dogs are ground in-house. There’s nothing frozen or artificial here. Mission’s handmade burgers and dogs also don’t come with a big price tag.

We sampled the slaw dog. It was one of the best I’ve ever had.

We sampled the slaw dog. It was one of the best I’ve ever had.

We sampled the slaw dog. It was one of the best I’ve ever had. I’m not a coleslaw person, but this was legit homemade without the goopy mayonnaise, and the bun was buttered and perfectly grilled on the flat top. According to food and travel website Thrillist.com, the Mission burger is the best in the state. I’ll definitely be back to try that in my next visit.

Located within feet from our previous stop was our final food-tasting destination, White Horse Tavern, America’s oldest tavern.

White Horse Tavern, America's oldest tavern.

White Horse Tavern, America’s oldest tavern.

Opened in 1670, The White Horse Tavern was a regular haunt for colonists, British soldiers, Hessian mercenaries, pirates, sailors, founding fathers and early Americans. It is known as the birthplace of the “businessman’s lunch” as in the early 1700’s city councilors dined here and charged their meals to the public treasury.

White Horse Tavern opened in 1670's and is the birthplace of the businessman's lunch.

White Horse Tavern opened in 1670’s and is the birthplace of the businessman’s lunch.

Wrapping up our food tasting, we had an amazing dessert called the NY cheesecake eggroll.

NY cheesecake eggroll

NY cheesecake eggroll dessert

Served with fresh berries, the eggroll is filled with NY cheesecake custard, dusted with cinnamon and deep-fried until lightly crispy. Despite being full from all the other treats we tasted along the way, we all managed to indulge – and it was worth the calories!

 

Paula has done a great job scouting out all the “best local” spots and eats. The Newport neighborhood tasting and cultural walking tour was fun and filled with delicious bites and bits of history. When planning your next trip to Newport and you’re looking for something different to do other than the mansions, cliff walk and the waterfront districts, I’d recommend including this delicious destination into your itinerary!

 

Have you ever been on a food walking tour?

What are your favorite places in Newport, RI?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with complimentary tickets for the Rhode Island Red Food Tours, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.